Drought drags on as damages rise over CZK 20 billion

Photo: European Commission

One of the worst droughts in recent Czech history is still tormenting farmers, with rainfalls in October measured at just a fifth of the monthly average. The total cost of damages to Czech agriculture and forestry has been estimated to lie at around CZK 24 billion so far and some farmers say the government is not doing enough about it.

Photo: Klára Stejskalová

Stanislav Němec,  photo: archive of the Association of Private Agriculture
The Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic says that this year’s drought has cost the agriculture sector CZK 12 billion in damages already, with food crops registering the largest losses. The mix of high temperatures and low rainfall has also had an impact on forests, weakening trees and setting out ideal conditions for parasites.

Speaking to the newspaper MF DNES, Jan Příhoda from Czech Forest think tank, an independent group of experts in the forestry sector, said the extent of damages is likely to be even higher, due to the fact that water management losses have not yet been included in the estimates.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference on Friday, the head of the Association of Private Agriculture, Stanislav Němec, complained that the Ministry of Agriculture did not help farmers sufficiently during the summer droughts. As an example, he said that the conditions for so-called greening, when part of the area must be left uncut, could have been changed.

“All that was needed was the signature of some ministry pen, but nothing happened”, Němec told journalists.

The ministry has so far stated that it had to consider not just farmers but also EU agricultural regulations.

Photo: European Commission
“These measures that have been mentioned would have broken EU rules and farmers would have been threatened by sanctions”, the ministry’s press spokesperson, Vojtěch Bílý, told the Czech News Agency.

According to the association, grass harvests in the first crop were as low as 60 to 70 percent of the normal size, with second and third sowings often not even taking place.

Farmers are hoping that they will receive state compensation of around CZK 2.5 billion. Something they argue would be equivalent to the compensation handed out in Germany.

The greatest losses are expected to be in wheat, sugar beet and hop production. Meanwhile, fruit harvests have been rich this year and those collecting apples can look forward to finding much more of them.